Whether you are a missionary raising support in England to preach the Gospel in China, a church planter in Davao City that needs funds to start a church in northern Luzon, or a church leader that is supporting missions and missionaries through the church, what Paul has said to his supporting church, the Philippian congregation, should shape your attitudes as you go about forging the partnerships God is calling you to make in order to further the work of the Great Commission.
As you read Philippians chapter one, you should have noted that missionary and church pray for each other. The missionary prays that the congregation will be graced with discernment for the “things that really matter,” which clearly means that they will see ever more clearly that it is the Gospel prospering in our hearts, and the Gospel prospering throughout the world, that really matters. The missionary understands and communicates that his difficult circumstances have “actually turned out for the advancement of the Gospel,” and there is no bitterness or complaint. Also, the missionary models godly priorities for the congregation, in that death simply means being with the Lord, and continued life is preferred for the sake of the partners’ spiritual growth.
As you read chapters two and three, you were reminded that the spiritual growth of Gospel partners is an important ministry. You will want to model your life after Paul, who lived for others rather than for himself. In doing so, you will then be able to help all your partners to more thoroughly abandon self-interest, and more thoroughly model themselves after you, after Paul, and after Christ Himself. In this way, your partners will become more effective in Gospel ministry with you, just as Paul urged the Philippians to become even better partners with him in their ministry together. Good partners in Gospel ministry are deeply concerned, as Paul was, that they all find neither their boast nor their joy outside of the rich relationship they have with Christ through the Gospel. This is not done out of a hope for more donations, but out of a deep concern for one another’s spiritual life.
As you read the fourth chapter of Paul’s letter to Philippi, you should have been relieved to see that worldly patterns of pressuring and manipulating donors are completely absent. As he finishes his letter, Paul returns to the theme of financial giving, a part of their partnership which was not explicitly discussed at the beginning of the letter. Because he looks to the Lord for his needs and he knows contentment in all circumstances, he does not pursue donations, but knows that it is good for the hearts of the members of the church to give. It is good for all our hearts to be generous, and giving with a good heart will enrich our heavenly reward, our “account.” It is not the gift, but the giver and the partnership that are the missionary’s concern. Paul also assures the readers that, as they give, the Lord will meet all of their needs.
Let us, as partners in Gospel ministries, live out these principles and follow Paul’s example, to the glory of God!